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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Get more out of your Career Counseling

Getting ready for a career counseling session is no different from preparing for an interview. In order for you to get the most you can out of career counseling, you need to bring the best of yourself to it.

While you may be hoping to get some direction in choosing a career or the next step on your path, you need to start thinking ahead about the things you want out of your life, and also the things you do not from it.

Those are big questions that you want answered in your career counseling session. Do not be surprised by the counselor telling you that they cannot answer those questions for you. In fact, they really cannot.

Their job is to help you identify your own interests, skills, strengths, and weaknesses, so that you can make good choices for yourself. To prepare to get this help, try preparing for your session like this:

Grab a piece of paper. Make a list of your strengths. These do not have to be professional or academic strengths, but things that you consider to be the best parts of yourself, from which you can draw skills to transfer into a workplace setting.

This will tell your counselor that you have untapped project management skills.

Next, make a list of things you would like to improve about yourself. These are not items that you would necessarily mention in a job interview. The true issues that you would want to work on before you bring them into the workplace.

This statement may tell your counselor that you need to strengthen your communications skills.

After this, do some brainstorming. For about ten minutes, write down questions you would want to ask an employer, about what their expectations are for their employees, and write down what your expectations are for your employer and your career.

Again, forget about job interview protocol. Just write down your candid thoughts.

Finally, open your mind. Your counselor is going to look at your history, and listen to what you say to help them decide how to guide you.

They may ask you to participate in exercises that you do not expect. Or to answer questions that reflect you in a negative light. Do not be offended. You need to be able to work on your weak areas in order to become stronger.

Some exercises you may be asked to do in a career counseling session are:

Assessment testing.

You may take tests that ask how you would respond to or perform in certain work settings, or with certain people. These tests also ask about your interests that may seem unrelated to work, but help to build a complete profile of your personality.

Mock interview.

You will sit with a staff member to answer typical interview questions. This will assess your interview skills, and also highlight areas of concern for you that you may not even know about.

Information session.

You could be sent to meet with employers to ask about their company, typical workdays, and expectations. You can make impressions without pressure, and possibly find a mentor.

By taking the process seriously and responding with energy to these activities, you can become more confident, and able to get what you expected. You will be able to get more out of your career counseling.

Gain an Unfair Advantage in Career Development using the tips in this Interview Guide

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